My name is Tarilja, I am also known as Aguinaya and was recently baptized Cecilia… I am the daughter of Bangilan, wife of Anchong “Fernando” Cosalan. This is my father’s story, this is my husband’s story… this is my life.
All I remember of my mother was her fragrant long hair and her quiet beauty. She was patient in everything and never raised her voice above a whisper. She died young, and I was but a child then.
My father is the great man Bangilan, he is also known as “Ngingian” (just like his father) for his loud booming laughter; and “Kidatan” for he was born on a night where the heavens were at war and the lighting never stopped flashing. He also took his grandfather’s name Acop, for which he was known by the pale foreign people.
My father was never unkind, always welcoming, always laughing. He had a soft spot for travelers for he came from three generations of travelers. Those that came from the mountains or the lowlands are welcome in his hearth to rest their weary bodies after days of traveling. He welcomed everyone; the dark skinned highlanders who were known as headhunters and the pale foreign people.
On the rare occasions that he paid attention to me as a child, he would tell me the story of how he came to my mother’s village. I will cherish the almost boyish mischief in his eyes when he began his tale.
According to him, his grandfather Acop (named after the owl perched on his shoulder) came from a village of the head hunters. The old man Acop, always thought there must be more than just trying to survive in a land where the constant fear for your life and your family’s life is a normal part of living. He was born to be a headhunter yet part of him wanted a peaceful life. But he was a warrior, and the desire for peace is unlikely for one; so he prayed to Kabunyan for a sign.
It was told that the Old man Acop started the journey south when he saw a deer with golden teeth. This was a deer like no other, for he motioned Acop to follow him. So,...